Special Delivery


Gerald Nordeen’s “fishing apparatus,” patented in 1972, eliminates all the tedious fighting that goes with a conventional rod and reel. When he gets a bite, the fisherman simply opens a valve in the rod handle and pressurized gas runs through the hollow fishing line to inflate a balloon attached to the float.

“Due to the lift of the balloon the entire float assembly will be lifted out of the water and into the air, urging the catch, if one is on the hook, toward the top of the water. The fisherman may then reel in his catch.”

A Portable Dip


Robert Gildea’s “water lounge,” patented in 1975, brings a pool to your patio:

Swimming pools are not only cumbersome and expensive but require open space where they are located. The ever increasing problem of accidents around such devices is also of concern. While the public has long sought a more convenient and less expensive device for cooling the body in the summer time, no such devices have been introduced. A device much smaller than the traditional swimming pool having the same general beneficial characteristics without the detrimental ones has long been sought.

The answer is to turn the lounge into a basin that can be filled from a hose. An umbrella “prevents the water from rapidly rising in temperature, which makes the water lounge more refreshing.”

Back to Nature


This one’s pretty straightforward. David Leslie’s “wearable device for feeding and observing birds,” patented in 1999, is essentially a helmet mounted with three poles, each bearing a bird feeder. “When flying animals feed from the feeders, a person wearing the hat may observe them from a short distance.”

The helmet can also be fitted with magnifying glasses and videocameras. One wonders what the birds think of this.

For the Fan


Catching a fly ball can be intimidating, so in 1993 Douglas Munoz invented a baseball cap that can be converted instantly into a glove.

“It is anticipated that the brim may assist the wearer in catching by extending the wearer’s reach.”



Patented in 1884, John Nelson’s “device for frightening rats and mice” is the lowest of low tech:

The said invention consists in printing the figure of a cat on cardboard having several coats of illuminating paint arranged so that the figure will shine in the dark; and, furthermore, in perfuming said figure with peppermint, which is obnoxious to rats and mice, and thus the device will have the effect to drive away these rodents.

For all I know it worked. If not, users could escalate to this solution, patented two years earlier.

Enfant Terrible


Anthony Peronti wasn’t messing around when he designed this baby carriage, a sheet-metal torpedo with welded fenders and a tanklike tread:

With the above described construction I have provided a baby carriage which will move easily and quietly over any type of surface and by virtue of the flexibility of the springs, curbstones, door-steps and other minor obstacles can be negotiated without tilting the body of the carriage and with a minimum of jarring or discomfort to the passenger.

He filed the patent in November 1945, so perhaps he’d been inspired by the battlefield.



In 1980 Michigan inventor Lawrence Robinson suggested wrapping an aquarium around a bathtub so that fish lovers can bathe with their pets:

This invention relates to a bathing fixture or tub such as ordinarily employed in the home, which also is an aquarium. The device may be used in the normal manner in the typical home bathroom, but it also provides the unique feature of an aquarium. The aquarium is so related to the bathing section of the tub that a bather will be literally surrounded by the aquarium creatures and/or plants while taking his or her bath.

I wonder what the fish think about this.



Patented in 1986, Waldemar Anguita’s “greenhouse helmet” is lined with live plants to provide oxygen for its wearer:

Plants, each within a pot, are placed within the dome. The carbon dioxide of the ambient air will mix with carbon dioxide breathed out by the person to be used by the plants to produce oxygen to be breathed in by the person.

Strangely, Anguita never explains why a person might want to do this.

No Connection

In 1816, enterprising meteorologist Francis Ronalds strung eight miles of wire through his London garden and created a working telegraph. When he offered it to the British Admiralty, he received this response:

Mr. Barrow presents his compliments to Mr. Ronalds, and acquaints him, with reference to his note of the 3rd inst., that telegraphs of any kind are now wholly unnecessary, and that no other than the one now in use [i.e., semaphore] will be adopted.

So Ronalds gave up. “I felt very little disappointment, and not a shadow of resentment, on the occasion, because every one knows that telegraphs have long been great bores at the Admiralty,” he wrote. “I claim no indulgence for mere chimeras and chimera framers, and I hope to escape the fate of being ranked in that unenviable class.”